The Nelson gets a fresh rustic style

St. Kilda is a part of Melbourne, Victoria that’s best known for being the place for portside life. With a long naval tradition, being right next to Port Philip it’s seen its share of sailors from every dock. It still carries with it that colourful aspect of its personality, carried even in some of its most respectable new additions like The Nelson, a rum bar that adds more than a drop of friendliness and class to entertain a new kind of reveller in the area.

Part of the bayside

This is no gentrified new trend taking away the character of St. Kilda. The rustic visuals of The Nelson hit you as soon as you get in. It looks like exactly what it is, a haven by the bayside where rum and good company are the specialty. The most striking evidence of that is the fact that The Nelson isn’t just part of the bayside but literally made from part of it, too. The bar is the focal point and centrepiece, running all along the side of establishment and it’s made from proudly-displayed recycled timber once part of the boards themselves.

But a better part of it

The personality of St. Kilda runs deeper than that, still. It’s minimalistic and rustic with its finely distressed wood surfaces and stools, but it’s not lacking in creature comforts, particularly in the deceptively high-quality leather lace adorning open booths and wall-mounted seats. This isn’t the dockside rum-hole of old, where partitions and dark corners kept sailors to drink their grog in peace. An open design, a visual through-line running through the centre tables over to the bar, keeps things open and friendly. Stylistic naval lanterns that look like they’ve been pulled right off the ship keep it in touch with its maritime theme, but contemporary hanging lights over the centre table never let it feel dark or unwelcoming.

Thematic but not garish

We’ve all been to bars that go for the maritime theme and we all know the clichés to expect and to loathe. The Nelson happily avoids the lifesavers, the overuse of ropes, and the famous sailor iconography. Its maritime feel comes primarily from the bar and from a gorgeous hand-painted mural by artist Dexter Rosengrave, depicting “The Kraken” in all its imposing power, but in a way that suits the faded-by-design walls, letting you in on the secret that its aged appearance is just that. That naval aspect is beautifully balanced by the use of natural, quality material that gives it a rural comfort and a certain minimalism that keeps it all contemporary.

When it comes to setting the scene of the bayside bar, The Nelson does it not only well, but it does it with some degree of subtlety. It doesn’t let theme get in the way of comfort or the opportunity to enjoy some rum in a light, friendly space that’s built for communal experiences and light banter with the bar staff. All the character of St. Kilda’s, given a splash of rum and a fusion between the old and the contemporary.


APEX is a leading supplier of commercial furniture, restaurant furniture & bar furniture.


Copyright © Visit Victoria 2017 & © Techne Architects 2017

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